Indiana Daily Student

‘What more can we take?’: Unity, courage, action urged at Indianapolis community vigil

<p>Vigil attendees cry together Saturday at Krannert Park in Indianapolis. A candlelight vigil took place at 7 p.m. in support of families whose loved ones were victims of a mass shooting Thursday.</p>

Vigil attendees cry together Saturday at Krannert Park in Indianapolis. A candlelight vigil took place at 7 p.m. in support of families whose loved ones were victims of a mass shooting Thursday.

Community members, politicians, coworkers and family and friends of the victims of Thursday’s mass shooting held up their lighters and phone flashlights Saturday evening in Indianapolis while a woman sang “Amazing Grace”. 

The FedEx logo was worn on many shirts, jackets and masks throughout the crowd. Someone had painted  “#FEDEXSTRONG” in green on the back of their truck. 

A group of about 200 people gathered for a candlelight vigil Saturday night at Krannert Park to honor those who died in the mass shooting Thursday in Indianapolis. 

Eight candles were lit in honor of the eight people who were killed Thursday.

A gunman killed eight people and injured five Thursday night at the FedEx Ground Plainfield Operations Center before killing himself. The mass shooting is the third in Indianapolis this year and the deadliest shooting in the city in at least 15 years

The victims’ names were: Matthew R. Alexander, 32; Samaria Blackwell, 19; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jasvinder Kaur, 50; Jaswinder Singh, 68; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; Karli Smith, 19; and John Weisert, 74, according to an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department press release.

“What more can we take?” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett asked at the vigil.

Hogsett said Indianapolis has faced a myriad of struggles since its bicentennial, challenging the city’s sense of community. Recovering will take courage, he said.

“We discovered that we are not defeated, that we will go on, that we will endure, that this city will persist,” Hogsett said. “And that so long as we have life left in us, we will not turn away.”

Related: [‘8 lives were taken over what?’: Indianapolis in disbelief after 8 killed at FedEx facility]

Hogsett said those killed Thursday varied in age and where they were from. The eight killed included four members of the Sikh community, he said. 

“In these moments of mourning, it is togetherness and unity that sustains us and prepares us for the long haul of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing,” said Aasees Kaur, Sikh Coalition legal client and community services manager.

Kaur said members of the community must support one another in this time of grief but also in enacting change. Events like Thursday’s mass shooting call the community to act for meaningful change by policymakers and elected officials, she said.

Rep. André Carson, D-7th District, said the constant threat of gun violence in workplaces, schools and the community cannot continue.

“This is not the first time that Hoosiers have felt this intense grief and pain,” Carson said. “It's not even, unfortunately, the first mass shooting in our community.”

Carson said he continues to support common-sense gun safety laws and the conversation about gun safety should not be partisan. Americans of all backgrounds have experienced pain as a result of gun violence, he said. 

“We must honor those we've lost with action to save lives in the future,” he said. “Let's turn this tragedy into a catalyst for change and create safer communities for all Americans.”

IMPD Chief of Police Randal Taylor said he was impressed by the strength of the victims’ families. He said they are strong, though they feel weak, and are unified together.

“Indianapolis is strong. We are a great community,” Taylor said. “We take care of our own. That’s what we will continue to do, to wrap our arms around these families.”

He said first responders and medical personnel did an incredible job responding to the scene. Local hotels also took action to take care of the families whose loved ones were involved, he said.

Ashlie Lucas is a former employee of the FedEx facility who left the job in January. She said she can relate to the workers because she has post-traumatic stress disorder and trauma.

Related: [Indianapolis police identify suspect in FedEx mass shooting as 19-year-old former employee]

“I can relate to the employees that made it out,” she said. “They have invisible wings now.”

Lucas said she is still concerned for those who were hospitalized since their identities have not been released. 

“I’m hoping to hear of our friends’ whereabouts,” she said.

Three of the five people who were hospitalized for their injuries were released from the hospital Saturday, according to the IndyStar. The two remaining patients are in stable condition.

Eight trained comfort dogs were present for those in attendance. 

Tim Hetzner, president and CEO of the Lutheran Church Charities of Northbrook, IL, said the dogs can help people through their grief and pain. When people interact with the dogs, he said they are often able to better articulate what they are going through. 

“Many times people will talk to a dog before they talk to a person because they show unconditional love,” he said.

He said the ministries respond locally to many schools and nursing homes as well as large national events such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 and the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016.

Ryan Henary, FedEx Ground managing director of internal communications, said the company is mourning the deaths of those who died and caring for those who were wounded. He said FedEx recognizes the Indianapolis employees for their bravery and support for one another.

“We have a long road ahead of us,” Henary said. “It will take time to heal and even longer for any form of normalcy.”

Editor’s note: All names in this article appear exactly as they were written in statements from law enforcement. Please contact us at editor@idsnews.com if you see any errors.

If you or someone you know need support, counseling is available through IU Counseling and Psychological Services. The CAPS crisis line at 812-855-5711 is available 24/7.

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